Welcome to this week’s edition of eSpotlight, where we give our Partners, Members, Clients, and Preferred Service Providers (PSPs) a chance to tell their story about their work with the California Mobility Center (CMC) and what they bring to the future mobility table. This week we are featuring a post from Casey Fallon, Director Purchasing, Warehouse, Fleet at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).
eSPOTLIGHT: CHANGING THE FUTURE OF FLEET ELECTRIFICATION WITH SMUD
By Casey Fallon, Director Purchasing, Warehouse, Fleet at SMUD
FLEET PERSPECTIVE ON ELECTRIFICATION
I have been responsible for fleet operations at SMUD since 2014 and over the past seven years our focus as a support organization has remained the same at its core: safety, reliability, responsiveness, solutions, and customer service. Along the way we’ve been able to improve our operations as a result of securing an increased annual capital budget in recent years. With the additional funds, we were able to buy down the age and improve the condition of our fleet, reducing our backlog of corrective maintenance and bringing down overall maintenance costs per mile. This context is important because without the position of control we are in today over the decisions, costs, and other variables with our fleet we would not be able to think about, plan for, and execute fleet electrification.
Since 2014, we have focused electrification primarily on our light duty fleet, initially with plug-in electric hybrids (PHEVs) like the Toyota Prius, later with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) like the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf. In 2017, we made our first purchase of hybrid bucket truck technology with Altec and have since increased the number of hybrid buckets in our fleet to more than 25. We have roughly 950 fleet assets today. Of those, 13 percent (or 123 vehicles) have an electric option – BEV, PHEV, hybrid bucket, idle management system, or similar.
Given this transition from roughly zero percent electric to 13 percent in just a few years, we’ve hit somewhat of a critical mass in terms of what we can electrify easily, given the options available from the market. Seeing this coming during 2019, we knew we needed to do something proactive and dramatic to accelerate fleet electrification. It was around this time that we began our conversations with the CMC who introduced SMUD to Zeus Electric Chassis.